atchmaking history is replete with ingenious inventions. Alpina has contributed plenty of its own, not least by establishing the core principles of sports watches almost one hundred years ago: timepieces that are non- magnetic, waterproof, rustproof, and impact-resistant. This legacy endures in most of its models today, including the Alpiner Extreme. Meanwhile, another more stylistic development dating from the inter-war years has also sparked enthusiasm among collectors: the California dial.
As wristwatches became more widespread and came to perform a more functional role, more particularly for pilots and divers, the need emerged for a dial that would be error-proof, preventing wearers from making any mistakes when reading its indications.
The need was all the more pressing in that back then, dials featured both Arabic and Roman numerals, with no consensus as to how the latter should be written: the figure 4 could be represented by IIII or IV; 8 could be VIII or IIX, while 12 might be left out altogether, often replaced by a brand’s logo. Not only that, the figure 6 could be mistakenly read upside-down as 9, a potentially fatal error for aviators in flight – or during an ocean dive.
The California dial was devised to solve this issue. Between the 1940s and 1980s, it was mostly to be seen on tool watches before becoming a fashion in its own right. It became known as the California dial as a result of collectors’ keen interest in the style in the 1980s, when many of the models in question were to be found in the US state of that name.
Today, Alpina’s Alpiner Extreme is very much in step with the original ethos of the California dial: a watch born on the steep slopes of the Alps, designed by mountaineers, and now worn by outdoor thrill-seekers everywhere.
The timepiece’s new dial is nigh impossible to misread. Arabic numerals are used for the 8 and the 4, while the 6 is represented by a dash that can’t possibly be mistaken for a 9. The 3 and 9 hour markers are also dashes; confusion is avoided by them being located between two full figures, one Arabic, one Roman, ensuring they will be read correctly.
Discerning connoisseurs will appreciate a happy coincidence, too: on California dials, the 12 is portrayed by a triangle – which, fortuitously enough, echoes Alpina’s own logo, a red triangle symbolising the Alpine summits. Indeed, one such triangle is to be found (as usual) serving as the counterweight on the seconds hand; another is located just above the brand name. To boost readability still further, Alpina has combined vintage luminous beige hands and hour markers with a black dial. A date window at 3 o’clock provides the finishing touch.
Housed within the Alpiner Extreme’s iconic cushion- shaped steel case (recently resized to a more compact 41x42.5mm format) is the AL-525 automatic calibre boasting a power reserve of 38 hours; it can be admired through the transparent caseback. Borne on a rubber strap and certified water resistant to depths of 200 metres, this watch is ready for any adventure.
Hours, minutes, seconds, date
AL-525 caliber, automatic
Brushed and polished stainless steel 3-part case
Diameter of 41X42.50 mm
Height of 11,50 mm
Anti-reflective sapphire crystal
Water-resistant up to 20 ATM/200m/660ft
Engraved and see-through screwed case-back
Black dial with triangle pattern
Black outer ring with white markers
Applied beige colour indexes filled with white luminous treatment
Date window at 3 o’clock
Hand-polished silver colour hour and minute hands filled with beige luminous treatment
Polished silver colour second hand with red triangle
Black rubber strap with folding buckle
RRP CHF 1’595